Farting (flatulence) or passing wind is your body’s way of releasing gas from your digestive system.
It’s perfectly normal to fart - the average person does it up to 40 times per day - but there are some habits and behaviours that can make you pass more wind than usual.
If you think you’re farting too much, the habits below may be causing the problem.
Too much fibre
Fibre can aid digestion as it helps move food through the digestive system, but a sudden increase of fibre in your diet can create gas and cause short-term problems with farting and bloating.
Certain types of fibre are also thought to create excess gas, such as complex carbohydrates like beans and lentils (pulses) as well as high-starch foods such as cabbage, broccoli and wholegrains.
If you want to enjoy the benefits of a high-fibre diet but don’t want to have excess wind, try introducing fibre to your diet slowly, adding 1 new food at a time to allow your body to adjust.
Swallowing too much air
Swallowing too much air (aerophagia) is linked to stress and anxiety, but it can also happen if you talk while you eat or gulp down food too quickly. Chewing gum and smoking can also increase the amount of air you swallow.
This air is often released through burping or farting.
If you think that excess air may be making you fart, try to:
- eat your meals more slowly
- talk less during meals
- stop chewing gum
- stop smoking (if you smoke)
Lactose is a sugar that’s found in most dairy products. If you’re lactose intolerant, you don’t have the enzymes that are needed to break down or process lactose.
If you have problems digesting lactose then you may find that eating cheese or yoghurt or drinking cow’s milk increases gas build-up. You may also experience stomach cramps, bloating, diarrhoea or nausea after having dairy foods.
If you think you may be lactose intolerant, you could try excluding these dairy products for 10 days.
If you do this and you see an improvement in your symptoms, see a doctor. They will be able to help you cut down on dairy foods without it affecting your nutritional health, and may recommend supplements if necessary.
If you try this approach and don’t see an improvement in your symptoms, see a doctor as there may be other causes for your flatulence.
Eating a lot of high FODMAP foods
Fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols (FODMAPs) are complex carbohydrates that are found in a number of different foods, including dairy products.
FODMAPs are not easy to digest, so they often pass into your large intestine (or colon) where they can be broken down by gut bacteria. This process can create gases that are then released by farting.
If you’re trying to reduce the amount of wind you pass, you may find it helps to try a low FODMAP diet. This involves cutting the foods you think are causing you problems from your diet one at a time, to see what effect, if any, this has.
These foods can then be left out of your diet for 2 to 6 weeks, during which time you can see if your farting improves.
High FODMAP foods
Suitable alternatives -- Low FODMAP foods
Note: You should always speak with a doctor or dietitian before starting a low FODMAP diet.
A medical condition
If you’re worried about your symptoms or the problem continues despite making changes to your diet or habits, see a doctor.